September 29, 2014

Seawall and staircase decision draws local outcry

By Seawall and staircase decision draws local outcry

Over the weekend, San Diego journalist, Thomas K. Arnold, penned a stinging rebuke of the 2-1 court of appeal decision in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission, which threatens bluff-top homeowners’ property rights—including the right to protect their homes with seawalls.

Arnold rightly criticizes the Coastal Commission’s “war against bluff top homeowners” over seawalls, along with the splintered court opinion that promises “detrimental implications for all coastal property owners in California whose properties are in danger of being eroded by the sea.”

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Lynch v. California Coastal Commission

The Lynch family sought permission from the California Coastal Commission to repair a storm-damaged seawall and stairway that led from their home at the top of a bluff down to the beach. The Commission permitted the seawall restoration with a condition that they seek an additional permit in the future, and denied the permit for the stairway. To protect their home, the Lynches accepted the conditioned permit under protest and repaired the seawall. PLF represents the Lynches, arguing that the seawall conditional permit and denial of the stairway permit violated their constitutional property rights. California’s appellate courts rejected the Lynch’s claims, and the California Supreme Court added insult to injury by holding that the Lynches forfeited their claims altogether by accepting the permit and repairing the seawall.

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